More Michigan local governments report boosting pay, CLOSUP survey says

January 27, 2015

Five years after the depths of the recession, more local governments in Michigan say they've boosted employee pay while subtracting in other places such as benefits, according to a recently released report by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP).

The report, Michigan local government leaders’ views on employee pay and benefits, is based on the findings of a statewide survey of top elected and appointed officials in the state’s 1,856 units of government.

Among localities with paid employees, the percentage that reported boosting employee pay rose in each of the last four years, from 22 percent in 2011 to 48 percent in 2014, the study found.

"Keep in mind, most increases were likely modest since almost no jurisdictions reported giving 'greatly increased' pay rates at any time since 2011," said Thomas Ivacko, CLOSUP administrator and program manager.

The report also noted that among jurisdictions that provide health care benefits, many have been asking employees to take on a greater share of the costs in recent years, from a peak of 51 percent in 2012 to a “still substantial” 43 percent in 2014.

The poll is part of the Michigan Public Policy Survey series at CLOSUP. Additional findings include:

  • The majority of jurisdictions were holding employee pay steady, instead of either increasing or decreasing rates
  • Most leaders continue to think their employee pay rates are 'about right,' although one-quarter still think their pay rates are 'too low'
  • Officials were much less likely to say their jurisdictions' fringe benefit packages (among those who offer them) are 'too generous' today compared with four years ago

The study, conducted April 8-June 10, 2014, involved surveys sent via hardcopy and the Internet to top elected and appointed officials in all counties, cities, villages and townships in Michigan. A total of 1,344 jurisdictions returned valid surveys, resulting in a 72 percent response rate. The survey had a margin of error of 1.4 percentage points.